‘Ridiculous’ to prevent Chelsea fans attending FA Cup semi-final – DCMS chair

Tickets cannot be sold by Chelsea under the terms of the licence the club are operating under

A few Chelsea fans were able to attend the quarter-final clash at Middlesbrough (Owen Humphreys/PA)
A few Chelsea fans were able to attend the quarter-final clash at Middlesbrough (Owen Humphreys/PA)

The Government has been urged to allow Chelsea fans access to FA Cup semi-final tickets, provided any proceeds go to the people of Ukraine.

Julian Knight, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, has called for changes to the special licence imposed upon the club after their owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the British Government.

The intention of the licence is to deny the club – and by extension Abramovich, who the Government says has ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin – the ability to generate new revenue, including from ticket sales.

Julian Knight has said Chelsea fans should be allowed to attend the game (House of Commons/PA)

Chelsea fans were unable to buy any tickets for the FA Cup quarter-final win at Middlesbrough beyond those purchased prior to the imposition of sanctions, but Knight insists a solution must be in place ahead of the semi-final against Crystal Palace at Wembley next month.

“It is ridiculous that we face the prospect of a half-full Wembley for the Chelsea vs Palace FA Cup semi-final,” Knight said.

“Chelsea is more than just its owner, it’s a living organism with huge importance to its fans and community. It was understandable that, at short notice, last week’s game against Middlesbrough went ahead without Chelsea fans but, with this much notice, the FA have no excuse for excluding them.

Chelsea fans at Middlesbrough (Richard Sellers/PA)

“The FA must be allowed to sell tickets to Chelsea fans so long as all money goes to the people of Ukraine.”

Last Tuesday Chelsea initially requested the match against Boro be played behind closed doors “for matters of sporting integrity” because of the inability to sell further tickets to travelling fans, but withdrew the request later the same day.

The club are currently unable to sell any new tickets in home sections of Stamford Bridge beyond those already sold, or sell tickets to visiting fans.

Unless the licence is changed, it means their Champions League quarter-final first leg at home to Real Madrid would be played behind closed doors.

Discussions between the Government, the Premier League and the Football Association on ticketing are ongoing.

Abramovich had indicated his intention to sell Chelsea just over a week before the imposition of sanctions, and that remains the case.

The Raine Group, a US-based merchant bank, is managing the sale process. Interested bidders had until last Friday to submit their plans.

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